Our aim was to evaluate continuous theta burst stimulation (cTBS) as a tool to induce temporary impairment (virtual lesion) in semantic processing. Four groups with 20 subjects each were stimulated. In the three experimental groups the stimulation site was the left superior temporal cortex. Stimulation was either 1Hz repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) at 100% resting motor threshold (RMT) or cTBS, with intensities of 80% or 90% active motor threshold (AMT). The TMS-control group was stimulated at the right medial prefrontal cortex with 1 Hz rTMS. After stimulation subjects accomplished a lexical decision task with a duration of about 20 min. In an additional fifth group the lexical decision task was performed without TMS. Reaction times were not influenced by cTBS applied with 80% AMT, but prolonged for about 80 ms with 90% AMT compared to the no stimulation condition. An increase of 140 ms was found after 1 Hz rTMS. The effect lasted for the whole task, but declined from the first to the second half of the experiment. The direct comparison of cTBS and 1 Hz rTMS suggests that both stimulation patterns can induce virtual lesions in the left superior temporal cortex and impair semantic processing. We suppose that cTBS could replace 1 Hz rTMS in this field since the application is faster and it is more comfortable to the subjects.
Copyright © 2013. Published by Elsevier Ltd.